• This topic has 9 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by DezB.
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  • Are all inner brake cables created equal?
  • Premier Icon ferrals
    Free Member

    Everyone bangs on about compressionless housings for brake cables, but what about the inner cables?

    I’ve just switched my road shifters over, I used the brake cable outers as I already had (as I think they are compressionless thoguh the marking has worn off). The supplied rear cable was too short so I bought a jagwire one and it is working fine. The one at the front is the shimno SLR one that came with the shifters. It seems ridiculously spongy and lever pull required increases with multiple pulls. Online it seems inner cables are inner cables, but I can’t see whatelse the issue is as I’m using the old housing I had no issues with in the past.

    Premier Icon gofasterstripes
    Full Member

    Perhaps the end fittings aren’t on well?

    The only difference I’ve ever noticed is rust resistance. High quality stainless cables are actually a bit of a marvel, technically.

    Premier Icon eddiebaby
    Full Member

    XTR FTW.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    Less of a difference than outers, but coated inners do make a difference. It’d being put under quite a lot of tension round bends so anything to reduce friction is good.

    You can identify compressionless outers as they look like gear outers with lots of thin strands rather than a big spiral.

    If it’s bad. I’d guess you’ve threaded it incorrectly under the bar tape/into the back of the bifter.

    Premier Icon takisawa2
    Full Member

    I always use stainless inners, bought cheaply in bulk from EBay. Always use standard Shimano outer but taking time to prep the outer correctly makes a massive difference. I always square off the end after cutting, with an angle grinder. Regardless which cutters you use it always crushes the ends in, creating drag on the cable. Then open out the inner sleeve with a drill bit. Use only metal ferrules & give the inner a blast through with a teflon based oil from an aerosol with straw.
    The difference it makes, especially to a child’s bike, is enormous. Once a year I’ll draw the inner out, blast some oil in & re-fit. Replacing inners is much easier afterwards as there’s nothing to snag & frat the cable.

    Premier Icon martinkiely
    Free Member

    When I was doing my road bike build a while back I got some Dura Ace/Ultegra (?) Shimano coated inner cables – only because they were on offer at the time – and the 105 brakes they are on have been very good from set-up and have stayed that way with no noticeable deterioration. I’ve had compliments on how good the brakes are from both my LBS and a pal with Ultegra brakes on his far better bike, so yes, in my experience, better quality inners – along with careful outer cable prep, obviously – makes a big difference, and I will definitely pay the extra again.

    Premier Icon Malvern Rider
    Free Member

    Regardless which cutters you use it always crushes the ends in

    True that. My (Birzman) cutters have a handy little bradawl incorporated in the side of the tool, recessed into a round socket so you press the cut cable-end in and open it back out.

    Back to the ‘are all cables equal’ – I hope not as last week I paid LBS £40 for what I thought was a full set each of Avid (brake) and Shimano (gear) inner and outers, yet still had to reuse an old brake cable as the Avid set only had one long outer and that wouldn’t run the full length of both brakes. Guess it was intended to be cut for interrupted runs with cable-stops, which my frame (Mk1 Longitude) doesnt have.

    Anyway, forty quids for 3/4 of the job. Am I getting too old for this game? How can a pint be £4? Etc… 🤣

    I do think Shimano steel cables seem to run slightly smoother/more friction-free than various Teflon-coated ones* although both work well IME. The possible trade-off is the Teflon ones seem to go on longer with that ‘fresh’ feel without the need to replace.

    *Have used Avid Flak Jackets and Clarkes Premium in the past

    Premier Icon paton
    Free Member


    Die Drawn Slick

    Premier Icon alexnharvey
    Free Member

    +1 for die drawn slick/polished stainless inners. I was impressed with lifeline compressionless outers too.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Full Member

    What is this thing ‘brake cable’?

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